Armenians in Ireland mark 108th anniversary of genocide
Armenians in Ireland gathered in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, last Sunday afternoon (April 30) to mark the 108th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide. Every year Armenians around the world mark the start of the genocide which began with the arrest of 250 Armenian intellectuals on April 24 1915. Over the years that followed 1.5 million Armenians died and a similar number of the Armenian population was scattered across the globe.
The commemoration took place in the context of Choral Evensong which was sung by the Cathedral Choir. Armenian poetry was recited by the children of St Hripsime Armenian Sunday School. The service began and concluded with music played by pianist Varazdat Khachatryan. The hymn of the martyrs of Armenian genocide was sung by Aydah Arshagian.
Welcoming the large congregation to the cathedral, Archbishop Michael Jackson noted that in both the Eastern and Western Churches, the commemoration this year took place in the Season of Easter. He pointed to the last words of Jesus on the Cross from St John’s Gospel: “it is finished”.
“The earthly life of Jesus Christ is finished. But memory is not finished,” the Archbishop said. “It is memory that gathers us together today to commemorate The Armenian Genocide in all its stark remembering and its wilful forgetting over a century of historical life beginning as it did on April 24th 1915. Memory gives destruction and displacement, pain and horror, individual death and community genocide. Memory gives hope and colour, perspective and resonance, music and laughter. Memory gives the voice of life ended along with the open pasture of life beginning in a very specific way in the Christian picture of birth and healing, suffering and resurrection that marks out the person of Jesus Christ as our pattern and our king, as the hymnwriter expresses it.”
Honorary Armenian Consul, Ohan Yergainharsian, highlighted the magnitude of what happened to the Armenian people and said that the terms ‘genocide’ and ‘crime against humanity’ were first used in reference to what happened to them in Ottoman Turkey. He hoped that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide would continue throughout the world, including in Ireland, and said that Armenians continued to suffer oppression today. Mr Yergainharsian thanked those who worked to have the Khachkar (Armenian stone cross) located in the cathedral grounds to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and Ireland, thanked the Archbishop, Christ Church Cathedral and the Church of Ireland for their ecumenical hospitality in embracing the Armenian community in Ireland. He said that the Armenian Genocide was commemorated annually on April 24 as that was the date in 1915 when the Turkish Ottoman government started arresting Armenians. He said that the decision to conduct the mass killing of Armenians did not happen over night but rather was the result of many years of anti–Armenian sentiment. Despite the contributions of Armenians to Turkish life, he stated, they were considered second class citizens. He said that this mindset contributed to genocide.
The service concluded with prayers and laying of wreaths at the Khachkar memorial.